Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Fresh start for troubled Channelside

The settlement over the beleaguered Channelside Bay Plaza outdoor mall marks the start of a fresh and exciting remake of downtown Tampa's Channel District. The deal a judge approved Monday ends years of uncertainty over a struggling destination and breathes new life into the effort to grow the Channel District into a vibrant, mixed-use community. The Port of Tampa should work with Channelside's new operator, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, to create an experience that offers a top-notch urban experience.

A bankruptcy judge approved a settlement Monday in the long-running case that clears the way for the port — which owns the land under Channelside — and Vinik's development group to open a new era for the retail and entertainment complex. The deal ends the ownership role of the Irish Bank Resolution Corp., which foreclosed on the property in 2010, and puts control directly into the hands of the port. Vinik will pay $7.1 million to take over the operation. The port will absorb about $550,000 in default damages and pay an additional $1.35 million to satisfy the loan. The $9 million deal is a fair price for the Irish bank. And it finally puts Channelside under local control.

The port acted responsibly by moving aggressively in recent months to break the impasse. Vinik's concept of a restaurant-retail-hotel mix at Channelside and an adjacent 23 acres he owns would be a good fit for the fast-growing channel district. Board Chairman Stephen Swindal was right to play a more forceful role, given the millions of tax dollars invested throughout the district in parks, shipping terminals, parking and other public works. Turning around Channelside is key to making downtown more attractive and a more appealing place to live, work and play.

Now comes the hard part. Channelside's uninviting facade and the disjointed environment of the Channel District pose many architectural challenges for Vinik. But he has the property to create a master plan for the area and can be a good partner with the port and the city. Channelside has lost valuable time in the recovering economy, but it still has a distinct identity and enviable location. Vinik also is bringing deep pockets to the redevelopment effort.

The settlement will enable all sides to focus on a new vision for Channelside. The port should continue to play a parental role to ensure that Channelside achieves its promise by shaping the look and feel of downtown for the better.

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Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18